Friday, September 8, 2023

Sisters Summer Reading Challenge Reviews

I'm learning to choose the right book for the right season. It is okay to set a book aside if it doesn't feel right for a specific time.  With that in mind, I enjoyed reading this summer. I chose some lighter reads, reread some favorites, and picked some nonfiction on heavy topics (like grief) that were short and doable.  The result was that, though summer was busy, I read more and enjoyed reading more than some busy seasons.

And please, if you don't read at all during a busy season (or any other time) don't feel any shame. These book posts are not to make you feel guilty. Charity and I read constantly. We might read less at times, but I'm not sure we are physically capable of stopping all reading. But if you choose to set books aside for a season, that is totally fine. No shame from us.

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Sisters' Summer Reading Challenge Reviews 

1. Read a book by a favorite author that you have never read before.

Charity - Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

Sayers' detective novels have recently been a highlight of my reading. Gaudy Night is so much more than just a mystery. It explores what it means to be a woman, and if women can be both educated and intellectual while also being wives and homemakers. The mystery is so fun, and I loved trying to figure out "who done it." Gaudy Night is number ten in the Lord Peter Wimsey series.

Gina - Every Ocean Has a Shore by Jamie Langston Turner

It has been over five years since Turner published a new book. Every Ocean Has a Shore is delightful as all of her others. Three people are in a Chicago deli when it is held up. That day marks the turning point in each of their lives. The book flips between these three as they move to other states and begin a journey toward God. And we get to revisit the beloved Eldeen, a character in Turner's first book, Suncatchers, who has shown up briefly in nearly all her other books.

2. Read a book that contains less than 200 pages.

Charity - Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

In this little book Wilkin brings us a case for Bible literacy and a how to study the Bible. She challenges us that we become what we behold therefore how can we become like God unless we behold Him through His Word? I definitely plan to keep this book close as I learn to study the Bible better. It is also a great guide to use when preparing a Bible lesson.

Gina - Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung

The majority of the chapters in this book cover a possible diagnosis for why we are "crazy busy." The last chapter gives the cure. (Hint: Find it in the story of Mary and Martha). I love that Kevin is a busy pastor and father of many small children who wrote the book to try to figure out why he was crazy busy and not because he had it all figured out. Crazy Busy doesn't try to help you become more efficient or manage your busyness, but confronts the underlying thought patterns that contribute to the craziness.  

3. Pick out three books that you'd like to read. Turn to the first word in each book, and read the book whose word comes first in alphabetical order.

Charity - The Robe by Loyd C. Douglas

I finally read this well known classic, and it was so exciting I couldn’t put it down! A young wealthy Roman is sent to Jerusalem during Jesus’ trial which leads to his encounter with Christ and his life is forever altered. Though I enjoyed this book, I don’t believe that Jesus’ robe had power, and I didn’t appreciate the biblical inaccuracies. 

Gina - Jack by Marilynn Robinson

Jack is the fourth book in the Gilead series. Each book in the series follows a different character, and I thought that maybe by reading Jack, I'd understand the prodigal son that played such an important role in the other books. But I didn't. I'm still confused about Jack's life choices. I have no idea how Robinson pulls so much life into such quiet stories. I'm amazed at her writing skill, though I don't think I'm smart enough to appreciate it fully and sometimes just feel confused. But if Robinson writes another book, (hopefully about Della), I'll certainly read it.

4. Read a book of the Bible and a write down the key idea from each chapter.

Charity - Micah
Why don’t I write down key ideas from each chapter I’m reading, every day? This challenge was absolutely wonderful! I am entirely too skilled at reading without remembering but finding out the key thought of a passage helps me stay engaged.  Micah may be one of those tedious minor prophets but it is so rich.

Gina - Nehemiah
Like Charity, I was amazed at the difference of reading the Bible with a pen and intention to write down the key ideas from each chapter. After reading Nehemiah, I went on to read Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah since they were men who were teaching at the same time as Nehemiah.

I'd love to hear what books you read this summer!


  1. I enjoy reading your posts about books Gina, and especially want to try #4. This summer I read "The Bookseller of Kabul" By Åsne Seierstad. It was a glimpse into an unfamiliar culture.

  2. I'm going to try to find the new Turner book!
    Also, do you purchase most of your books, use the library, or read ebooks?

    1. Melinda,
      I do all three. I borrow books from the library, especially if I'm not sure I'll like them or know I'll only read them once. I purchase books that are hard to find at the library, those written by my friends, or ones I plan to reread or share with others. I use Scribd (an online subscription service) for audio books and ebooks. I don't read a lot of ebooks but like to keep at least one on my phone in the event that I get stuck waiting somewhere without reading material.

  3. I loved the summer reading challenges 1. Book from a favorite author I never read before: Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott. This was a really sweet book that was part of the Little Women group of children's books. 2. Book less than 200 pages: Goodbye Mr. Chips by James Hinton. This is set in England at a boys boarding school with Mr. Chips being one of the teachers. A completely clean book about the encounters he has with his students. 3. Pick out three books and read first word that comes first alphabetically: Nonresistance Under Test by E.J. Swalm. This book gives accounts of Christ following men in World War 1 and 2 who wee conscientious objectors. I'm actually still reading this book. Its really old published in 1948. 4. Study book from the Bible and write down key ideas. I studied several but Job I liked the best. It seems that his three friends who came to comfort him were no help at all. But Job never disrespected God even though he lost everything.

    I'm doing the fall challenges now. I'm halfway done with a book with a subtitle.

  4. I enjoy reading your book posts. It's such a neat and fun thing you can do as sisters. It's fun to see the different places you pose for pictures.

  5. I am always inspired to read more when I read these posts, but what I need to be is inspired to manage my time so that I have some free margins in which to actually read! I have been enjoying reading middle-grade novels to see if I think they would be good for my oldest daughter or as read-alouds. We just enjoyed The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich, a historical novel inspired by the author's Ojibwe heritage. The animistic culture brought up a lot of discussion points - how do they know "right and wrong" if they've never heard of Jesus? Thank you for the prompt to look for a main idea in every chapter of scripture. I too can often read very superficially. I need to re-read Women of the Word! - Mary Kathryn

  6. I am so thankful for both you and your sister, for the time you both put into encouraging me to read! I also enjoy reading , but it is nice to have particular books recommended along with seasonal reading challenges. Right now I am working on 2 books: Emma by Ervin R. Stutzman (a very interesting story that has encouraged me to continue on through small and large trials) and Loving God with All Your Mind (Elizabeth George-this one my 2 daughters and I are working through together as a Bible study). Next comes God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew. May God richly bless you both for being such a blessing!

  7. I'm in the process of reading "Every Ocean Has a Shore." Since I have a hard time not skimming, my mom's having me read every word of this book, which is a real challenge! :)

  8. I always enjoy these posts so much, and I try to nab as many as possible of your recommendations from our local library. As always, thank you!

    Here are some good books that I've read lately:
    * Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Gawande)
    * Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters
    * That Hideous Strength (C.S. Lewis, #3 in his space trilogy)
    * Plays by Oscar Wilde (so funny)
    * Little Britches series
    * Cherry Ames series (WWII nursing series)
    * Very Good, Jeeves! / Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (Wodehouse)


I love to hear from you.


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